This is the only picture you're going to get tonight and I stole it from the internet. Why? Because I'm a bonehead, that's why. I took out my camera when we arrived only to discover that I'd left the memory card in my laptop last night. Quel désastre! Sandi took lots of pictures and we have agreed to make disks of our photos for each other when we get home, but her memory card doesn't fit in my computer. Arrrggghhh.
Anyway, I can still tell you about it and try to paint a picture with my articulate prose. Ahem. Actually I'm just going to plagiarize from a website I found here. (Except that it's not plagiarism if you cite your sources, right?)
Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River in Normandy. It was used in the 6th and 7th centuries as a stronghold of Romano-British culture and power until it was sacked by the Franks; thus ending the trans-channel culture that had stood since the departure of the Romans in 459 AD.
Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called Mont Tombe. According to legend, the archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet.
But Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel's instruction until Michael burned a hole in the bishop's skull with his finger. That did the trick. The dedication to St Michael occurred on October 16, 708.
During the Revolution the abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by 1836 influential figures, including Victor Hugo, had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874. Mont Saint Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
So... you can see by the photo that this is a little town built on a rock in a bay. The abbey is at the very top of the rock. And we climbed up to the abbey. Alllll the way up there. The streets are extremely narrow, then there are about a bazillion stairs to climb (but we're very experienced stair-climbers now so that was no problem).
Let me ask you a question. Which of the following would you not do in a place such as Mont Saint-Michel, keeping in mind that the streets (well, there is actually only one street) are at best 6' wide and very steep, and there are a lot of stairs?
a. take small children
b. take a large stroller for your small children
c. take your dog
d. wear high heeled shoes
The answer, of course, is ALL OF THE ABOVE. Some people are just so dumb. I won't go on about this. Suffice it to say that this place is a very popular tourist attraction, those 6' wide streets were wall-to-wall people (and I am not exaggerating) and, as I said before, people are just so stupid.
Anyway, we had fun. We climbed, we looked, we photographed (at least Sandi did), we climbed down, we had wine at a café, we got back on the bus and we returned to Paris. It was a long day, but I'm glad we got to see it because it was so beautiful and so steeped in history.
Now, if we could just get rid of some of these people...
(And I'm really really sorry about the lack of photos. Really. I was very annoyed with myself.)